Honours recipients

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in June 2019, 89.6% of all honours recipients were from the White ethnic group
  • 5.4% of honours recipients were Asian, 3.2% were Black, 1.2% had Mixed ethnicity, and 0.6% were from the Other ethnic group (including Chinese)
  • White people received 96.8% of higher honours (including damehoods and knighthoods) awarded in June 2019
  • out of all types of honour, OBEs had the greatest percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities (15.7%) in June 2019
  • between June 2014 and June 2019, the percentage of honours recipients who were from ethnic minorities increased from 6.5% to 10.4%
  • these figures only include honours recipients whose ethnicity was known
Things you need to know

Honours nominees are asked about their ethnic group when they’re asked whether they would like to accept an honour.

There are some people who are nominated for an honour, and do not accept. This data does not include them. It is the data collected from those who appear on the Queen's Birthday and New Year's Honours Lists and who receive awards mainly in the Order of the British Empire.

The numbers of honours recipients are small and vary from year to year. Therefore caution is needed when making any generalisations. Consider both the percentage and number of recipients from different ethnic groups.

This data doesn’t include honours recipients whose ethnicity wasn’t known. The percentage of recipients whose ethnicity wasn’t known is:

  • June 2019: 12.5%
  • December 2018: 15.2%
  • June 2018: 7.0%
  • December 2017: 3.5%
  • June 2017: 3.7%
  • December 2016: 8.2%
  • June 2016: 3.5%
  • December 2015: 4.5%
  • June 2015: 3.2%
  • December 2014: 3.2%
  • June 2014: 3.1%
What the data measures

This data measures the ethnicity of honours recipients in the Queen’s Birthday and New Year’s Honours Lists who receive an award in the Order of the British Empire.

Honours lists are published twice a year, in December and June, with around 1,200 people in each list.

This data includes 5 types of honour:

  • Higher Honours (including damehoods and knighthoods)
  • CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
  • OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire)
  • MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire)
  • BEM (British Empire Medal)

Recipients are nominated by someone else, and are then asked whether they would like to accept the honour.

An independent honours committee decides the type of honour that someone receives. There are 10 honours committees covering nominations from different sectors.

Recommendations go to the Prime Minister and then to The Queen, who awards the honour.

People get honours for achievements like:

  • making a difference to their community
  • enhancing Britain’s reputation
  • long-term voluntary service
  • innovation and entrepreneurship
  • changing things, with an emphasis on achievement
  • improving life for people less able to help themselves
  • displaying moral courage
The ethnic categories used in this data

Honours recipients reported their own ethnicity according to the following categories:

Asian:

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Asian other

Black:

  • Black Caribbean
  • Black African
  • Black other

Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:

  • Mixed White/Black Caribbean
  • Mixed White/Black African
  • Mixed White/Asian
  • Mixed other

White:

  • White British
  • Other White

Other ethnic group:

  • Chinese
  • Any other

Because the number of honours recipients is small (around 1,200 per honours list), figures are shown for the following 5 broad ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other (including Chinese)

For the data shown over time, results are shown for 2 broad ethnic groups:

  • White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other – all other ethnic minorities

2. By ethnicity

Percentage and number of honours recipients, by ethnicity and type of honour
All Higher CBE OBE MBE BEM
Category All % All Number Higher % Higher Number CBE % CBE Number OBE % OBE Number MBE % MBE Number BEM % BEM Number
Asian 5.4 51 0.0 0 2.1 2 8.4 16 6.5 22 3.9 11
Black 3.2 30 3.2 1 4.2 4 4.7 9 3.2 11 2.1 6
Mixed 1.2 11 0.0 0 1.1 1 2.1 4 1.5 5 0.4 1
White 89.6 841 96.8 30 92.6 88 84.3 161 87.3 296 93.7 266
Other inc Chinese 0.6 6 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.5 1 1.5 5 0.0 0

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity Summary

This data only includes honours recipients whose ethnicity was known.

The data shows that, in June 2019:

  • 89.6% of honours recipients were from the White ethnic group
  • Asian people were the most likely to receive an honour out of all ethnic minority groups (with 5.4%), followed by Black people (3.2%), people from Mixed ethnic groups (1.2%) and people from the Other ethnic group (including Chinese) (0.6%)
  • White people received 96.8% of higher honours awarded (including damehoods and knighthoods)
  • 3.2% of higher honours were awarded to Black people (1 out of 31 recipients whose ethnicity was known)
  • out of all types of honour, OBEs had the greatest percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities (15.7%)

3. By ethnicity and type of honour over time

Percentage of honours recipients, by ethnicity (White and Other) and type of honour over time
White Other than White
Time period White Higher White CBE White OBE White MBE White BEM Other than White Higher Other than White CBE Other than White OBE Other than White MBE Other than White BEM
Jun-14 94.9 94.4 91.1 92.9 95.9 5.1 5.6 8.9 7.1 4.1
Dec-14 92.9 96.3 94.4 91.1 97.2 7.1 3.7 5.6 8.9 2.8
Jun-15 84.6 94.4 94.7 91.3 95.1 15.4 5.6 5.3 8.7 4.9
Dec-15 94.7 96.2 95.2 91.6 96.5 5.3 3.8 4.8 8.4 3.5
Jun-16 94.4 93.3 92.4 87.9 96.6 5.6 6.7 7.6 12.1 3.4
Dec-16 91.9 93.8 91.2 88.9 91.8 8.1 6.3 8.8 11.1 8.2
Jun-17 94.6 94.9 88.1 86.8 94.9 5.4 5.1 11.9 13.2 5.1
Dec-17 91.8 92.6 90.5 88.2 94.8 8.2 7.4 10.4 11.8 5.2
Jun-18 94.3 90.0 85.2 87.1 94.7 5.7 10.0 14.8 12.9 5.3
Dec-18 100.0 96.3 87.1 82.3 92.7 0.0 3.7 12.9 17.7 7.3
Jun-19 96.8 92.6 84.3 87.3 93.7 3.2 7.4 15.7 12.7 6.3

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity and type of honour over time Summary

This data shows that, where ethnicity was known:

  • between June 2014 and June 2019, the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) increased from 6.5% to 10.4%
  • the percentage of OBE recipients from ethnic minorities increased from 4.8% in January 2016 to 15.7% in June 2019
  • in every honours list since June 2014, less than 10% of higher honours were awarded to people from ethnic minorities (except June 2015, when the figure was 15.4%)
  • since June 2016, people from ethnic minorities were more likely to receive an OBE or MBE than any other type of honour

4. Methodology

Honours recipients complete a diversity monitoring survey when they accept their honour which asks them to indicate which ethnic group they identify with.

The responses are sent back to the Honours and Appointments Secretariat, which collects the data for statistical purposes.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Values have not been suppressed because recipient’s identities are publicly available when honours lists are published.

Rounding

Percentages in the charts and tables are given to 1 decimal point but all differences have been calculated using unrounded data.

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Cabinet Office

Publication frequency

Twice a year

Purpose of data source

The collection of this data is for statistical purposes and aids the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in ensuring equality of representation in the honours system.

6. Download the data

Honours recipients by ethnicity - Spreadsheet (csv) 101 KB

This file contains the following: honours category, ethnicity, year, number and percentage values